‘Mumbra hospital fire exit was blocked’
The fire in Prime Criticare hospital in Mumbra on Wednesday morning, which killed four patients in the intensive care unit (ICU), was a wake-up call for the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC), which had claimed several times in the past few weeks that nearly all hospitals in their jurisdiction are “fire-compliant”.
Prime Criticare Hospital is a 16-year-old structure, which was earlier known as Life Care Hospital and later Saboo Siddique. While the corporation claimed two notices were served to the said hospital, the last notice was served in February, after which there was no follow-up. Locals claimed there was only one exit and the fire exit, too, was blocked. “Although there was a fire exit on the premises, it was getting difficult to rescue, as the pathway was closed with storage material. We have served two notices to the hospital, however, there was no response,” said TM Mishra, fire chief, Mumbra. An officer from TMC said, “Over 70 per cent of the hospitals are in illegal buildings. We can’t seal all these hospitals, as patients need them. Moreover major structural changes for fire safety, too, are not possible owing to lack of space.”
Despite repeated attempts, the hospital was unavailable for a comment.
A local resident said, “The hospital is congested and fire exit was obstructed with storage material. There is one exit for patients. So we had to break open the grille of a window at the back of the hospital. Moreover there was only one staircase, the other was a ramp.”
TMC officials on Tuesday held a meeting with all private hospitals, after which the fire department started sending notices to hospitals that were not fire-compliant. However, Prime Criticare was yet to receive a notice.
Girish Zalke, chief fire officer, said, “We often give enough opportunities to hospitals to submit their fire compliance. Owing to the current medical situation, we could not take drastic measures. The incident happened due to panel overheating. It is an accident that occurred due to electric faults on the premises.”
As the fire audit was not conducted, the mandatory report from the electrical inspection was also not available.